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Graphic element Research > Growth > News > Press room > Integrated plant control promises safer working
Graphic element Integrated plant control promises safer working
    Creation: 23/11/01

Advances in sensor technology, distributed control systems and computer technology are dramatically increasing the amount of data that can be collected on the operation of industrial plants. However, the sheer volume of these inputs may make it extremely difficult for human operators to react appropriately. The aim of the FP5 CHEM project is to develop decision support system software that will integrate the use of specialised process control and simulation 'toolboxes' to provide usable on-line information for efficient, problem-free management of refining, chemical and petrochemical processes.

Around the world, unscheduled plant shutdowns and other abnormal situations are causing economic losses amounting to billions of euros each year, plus untold damage caused by serious accidents.

Today's control systems include more and more monitoring equipment - but this is mainly to provide more data to operators who still have to make the important and often complex decisions in a very limited time. Incidents such as Three Mile Island, Bhopal, and Chernobyl are chilling examples of faults that turned into disasters, partly due to improper actions on the part of operators probably faced with an information overload.

Easier decision making

The objective of the GROWTH CHEM (1) project is to eliminate such risks and facilitate the achievement of optimal operating states by greatly simplifying decision making in refining, chemical and petrochemical operations.

While much work has already been carried out in process trend analysis, fault diagnosis and decision support, the resultant tools typically function as separate entities. It thus remains difficult for the industrial designer to build fully integrated supervision systems for new plants. CHEM seeks to solve this problem by providing a flexible decision support system (DSS) capable of digesting and interpreting the data delivered by a wide range of disparate measurement, modelling and analysis software tools.

This three-year GROWTH project began in April 2001, with an eight-nation consortium including both EU and applicant country partners and led by the Institut Français du Pétrole. Participants include five industrial companies and five academic institutions, with four industrial assistant contractors. The scope of CHEM is further extended by its incorporation into the international IMS (Intelligent Manufacturing Systems) programme, adding more partners from the USA and Japan.

The DSS to be developed will allow synergistic combination of advanced tools developed by the team members, who bring complementary expertise in various aspects of process supervision. The University des Sciences et Technologies de Lille (USTL) and THALES Airborne Systems, together with the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT), are specialists in fault diagnosis. The Universitat de Girona (UdG) leads in process trend analysis, and the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) in reactive scheduling. Lund University has done important work in decision support structures, while the Technical Research Centre of Finland is a major actor in safety and risk analysis. Software vendor Computas is deeply involved in statistical process control. Gensym is a specialist in on-line integrated software products that model, simulate and manage critical operations across a broad range of industries.

End users will contribute the necessary experience in handling real industrial situations and developing complete supervision systems.

(1) CHEM: Advanced decision support system for chemical/petrochemical manufacturing processes (G1RD-CT-2001-00466)

Widely applicable

A demonstrator package will be built around software widely used in industry, with a modular design that will readily allow new supervision applications to be incorporated as they emerge.

To prove the concept, industrial and academic partners will provide access to pilot and full-scale plants running processes ranging from Fluid Catalytic Cracking (IFP) to coal gasification (UPC), steam generation (USTL), papermaking (UPM-Kymmene), benzole recovery (Corus) and hydroxylamine sulphate manufacturing (ZAP - a subcontractor to WUT). This diversity will enable the broad applicability of the approach to be verified under actual working conditions.

Anticipated exploitable results of the project will be:

  • Methodology, whereby advanced process supervision and optimisation applications can be designed and built using the common CHEM architectural framework and individual toolboxes. The essentials of the methodology will be made public, in order to ensure as wide as possible industrial take-up.

  • Toolboxes - individual software modules that can be 'plugged into' the common framework.

  • Applications - complete software solutions built with relevant toolboxes and dedicated to specific processes.
Reducing accidents and pollution

Reducing accidents and pollution
By preventing or managing abnormal events, CHEM will reduce accidents and pollution - thus playing a major role in safety and environment protection. In addition, it will yield valuable new knowledge about process parameters and critical conditions. Users will benefit from the ability of integrated supervision to improve the efficiency of their operations, and thus reduce costs. It will also enhance working conditions by easing operators' tasks and removing potential sources of stress.



Institut Français du Pétrole
Avenue Napoleon Bonaparte 232
F-92500 Rueil Malmaison, France
Tel: +33 1 47 52 70 17
Fax: +33 1 47 52 70 22

Other partners:

  • Computas, Norway
  • Corus UK
  • Gensym, The Netherlands
  • Lund University of Technology, Sweden
  • Metso, Finland
  • Nitrogen Works 'Pulawy', Poland
  • Oy Keskuslaboratorio - Centrallaboratorium, Finland
  • Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finland
  • THALES Airborne Systems, France
  • Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain
  • Universitat de Girona, Spain
  • Universite des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, France
  • UPM-Kymmene, Finland
  • Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
Easier decision making
Widely applicable
Reducing accidents and pollution

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